2009 Women's Track & Field Outlook
Jan. 7, 2009
The Bruin women struggled in 2008 after injuries and illness hit theteam, but Jeanette Bolden has reloaded with some stellar recruits andhealthy returning athletes and vows to make the 2009 season one inwhich her team returns to the top-15 or top-10 at the NCAA Championships.'This year's team has a lot of depth across the board,' said Bolden. 'Wehave brought in athletes for all event groups and feel like we can getback into the top-10 nationally with this squad. We want to be in thetop-3 at conference and top-10 at NCAAs. If we do that, we will be backon track.
Leading the way is senior co-captain Nicole Leach, the 2007 NCAAchampion in the 400m hurdles and fi ve-time All-American who is readyto make her fi nal campaign at UCLA one for the record books. Fellowsenior Krystin Lacy will be the utility athlete for this group as she willrace in the 100m, 200m, 400m and relays. Senior Chanelle Curry andsophomores Joy Eaton and Ashlea McLaughlin will add depth in thesprint events.
Newcomer Ryann Krais will look to continue the success she had inthe intermediates in high school and will defi nitely be competitive at anatonal level after having competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials last July.Freshmen Nijah Nelms, RoNecia Nash and Yasmin Woodruff will look tomake an immediate impact in the short sprints, while Nash will look toadd depth to the 100m hurdles where sophomore Lindsay Rowe leadsthe way after a strong freshman season in which she competed at theNCAA Outdoor Championships. Tierra Williams-Ward also returns toadd depth to the short hurdles.
'I think the youth in this group will really surprise a lot of people thisyear,' noted Bolden. 'We have great depth and will see a lot of competitionfor spots on our relays.'
Junior Krishna Curry highlights the distance group after a banner sophomorecampaign in which she moved into the UCLA top-10 in the 800mand competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and U.S. OlympicTrials. Senior Lauren Jirges and redshirt junior Ciara Viehweg will alsolook to lead this group.
Newcomers Katja Goldring, Camilla Dencer and Shelby Buckley willmake an immediate impact on the squad as all three bring talent inmiddle to long distance events. Goldring will lead the 5000m/10,000mrunners, while Dencer and Buckley will look to support Curry in theshorter distance events.
'Overall, I feel that our team is getting back to the depth that we usedto have,' said Bolden. 'We're very strong now in our distance area, withKrishna leading the way. We have some great recruits like Camilla, Shelbyand Katja. We are look forward to a good showing from this group.'
Two-time NCAA champion and 2008 Beijing Olympian Rhonda Watkinsreturns for her fi nal season at UCLA and will look to again battle forthe NCAA title in the long jump. After taking last season off in the highjump, she will return to compete in that event in 2009. Regional qualifier Danielle Watson also returns to back up Watkins in the long jump.
Ke'Nyia Richardson, the U.S. prep record holder in the triple jump, wassidelined much of the 2008 season with an injury, but is healthy andready to show why she was one of the top jumpers in the country twoyears ago.
Camilla Dencer will compete in the high jump as well as the 800m asshe comes to UCLA with solid marks in the event.
'Although this group is smaller then in years past, the level of talentis exceptional,' noted Bolden. 'Rhonda is healthy after struggling withinjuries in 2008 and is ready for a big senior year. We're also happy tosee Ke'Nyia healthy again because we know she will defi nitely give thisteam a boost. Danielle has come into her own in the long jump and it'sgreat to see her progressing technically. Camilla is not only an 800mrunner but a fi ne high jumper and we're excited to see what she can dofor this team.'
The Bruin vaulters continue to excel on the national level and boastone 14-footer and four 13-footers in this years group. NCAA Indoor All-American Tori Anthony leads the way after missing more then a monthof the 2008 season due to mononucleosis. Katy Viuf and Tori Peña returnafter banner sophomore campaigns in which both cleared 13-feetand competed at the NCAA Outdoor meet. Megan Jamerson, also a 13-footer, returns for her fi nal campaign at UCLA, while Lindsay Regan isback in action after redshirting the 2008 season to rehab a back injury.'Our vault group is always a highlight for our team,' remarked Bolden.'There is so much talent and depth within this group, and I know manyof these ladies will be at the National meet.'
Junior Tara Ross leads the way after a successful 2008 season in whichshe moved into the UCLA all-time top-10 in the javelin. Newcomers BrittanyBorman and Jade Niemeyer will look to add immediate relief in thethrowing events. Borman comes to UCLA with impressive marks in theshot put, discus and javelin, while Niemeyer, a transfer from BYU, willlook to lead the way in the hammer. Returning sophomores Alexa Bergand Catherine White will continue to add depth in the throws. HillaryWerth will also add depth in the javelin.
'We are getting the depth that we had before in the throws,' said Bolden.'We've been lacking a little in this event area, but with Tara and theaddition of Brittany and Jade, we will return to being competitive in thethrows again.'
Heralded freshman recruit Ryann Krais, the top prep heptathlete in theU.S. last season, will look to make an immediate impact in the multieventgroup for the Bruins. Krais has impressive credentials and willcompete for a spot at Nationals. Hillary Werth also returns to competein the heptathlon after struggling with injuries her fi rst few seasons atUCLA.
'We are Looking to have a really good showing in the hepathlon withHillary coming back and the edition of Ryann,' said Bolden. 'Ryanncould compete for a spot at indoor and outdoor Nationals in just herfi rst season and we know Hillary is ready to make an impact in the heptathlon.'